Exotic plants, shrubs and trees
Eggplant Gilo Brazil (Solanum gilo)
Decorative type with green fruits turning yellow, orange and then red. Packet of more than 25 seeds: $1,49
Relative of the Tree Tomato or Tamarillo (Cyphomandra betacea), this species is more manageable (1,5 to 1,8 m) and has a shorter cycle. It blooms the first year, a few months after sowing. The crowns of small white flowers are followed by small, 1 inch decorative berries. Some say these fruits are edible and have a nice flavor (like peach or apricot), though the ones we grew did not taste great at all (climate? strain?). Large, tropical looking downy leaves. Place it outside during summer. Rare. South America. Low germination (20%), but packets increased to 35 seeds (enough seed fo at least 5 plants).
Packet of 35 seeds: $1,99
Ashwagandha Ginseng indien (Withania somnifera)
Medicinal plant used for centuries in India for its therapeutic virtues. Strengthens body and mind, alleviates insomnia, rheumatoid arthritis, etc. Relieves stress. All parts of the plant can be used. Steeped leaves makes a calming tea. Height: 40-60 cm (here). Easy to grow (easier than chinese ginseng). Full sun. Tender perennial treated as an annual.
Packet : $2,49
Lespedeza (Trèfle arbustif , Lespedeza thunbergii)
Fast growing shrub with long arching branches covered in rosy pink flowers at the end of summer. Blooms are similar to sweet pea, clustered on long flower spikes (60 cm long). Full sun. Perennial up to zone 4 or 5. Easy germination (1-2 weeks at 30 C). Can be used as a single bush, as a hedge or to hang over walls. Popular in Japan. Packet of 15 seeds: $2,99
Litchitomato Morelle de Balbis (Solanum sisymbrifolium)
White to pale blue flowers followed by decorative, 1 inch red berries. Spiny plant, about 1 to 1,5 m high. Click on photos for details. Fruits are edible but rather bland. Blooms from July until frosts.
Packet of 15 seeds: $1,49
Lycium - Chinese Boxheart (Lycium chinense)
Small 3 foot shrub with edible red berries. Fruits are consumed fresh or dried like raisins. They are also used as an ophthalmic herbal medicine in China and were included more recently in some dietary supplements. The dried berries taste somewhat like cranberries and have a very high content of beta carotene. Aka: Chinese boxthorn, Matrimony vine.
Packet is 30 seeds: $2.99
Dried fruits, real size
Naranjilla Lulo (Solanum quitoense)
Large subtropical plant from the andean plateau where it is grown for its delicious orange fruits. National fruit of Ecuador. Small, 3 to 5 cm orange fruits covered with fuzz. Beautiful emerald green pulp with tropical fruit flavor. To make a refreshing juice, simply add sugar and water. Ornamental plants with large purple veined leaves covered with a soft, downy fuzz. Height: 1,5-1,8 m. Needs 8 months of growth to produce fruits. May need hand pollination to set fruit. Also called "Lulo". Columbian strain covered with spines and producing larger fruits. Germination: 2-3 weeks. New seeds.
Packet of 15 seeds: $2,99
Paulownia (Paulownia tomentosa, Empress tree)
Perennial. Fast-growing deciduous tree with nice scented flowers looking somewhat like snapdragons or foxgloves. Large, heart shaped leaves about 4 to 8 inches wide. Blooms in spring with 2 inch purple flowers. Can grow 6 or 7 feet in one season. Perennial to zone 6 and warmer parts of zone 5 (like Montreal). Protect from winter the first year. Seeds needs light to germinate.
Packet of more than 50 seeds: $2,99
Link to a picture of the flowers (University of Missouri)
Pepino Dulce Pear Melon (Solanum muricatum)
Andean plant grown for its refreshing fruits tasting somewhat like a mix of melon, pear and cucumber. There's also a slight banana aroma in there. Oval fruits, 12 cm long, cream to pale yellow, with purple stripes. Yellow flesh, smooth and very juicy. Plant is potato leafed (Pic) with purple flowers. can be grown in the north if plant are started inside very early (jan-feb-march). Pepino plants are very easy to reproduce by cuttings. They tend to crawl on the ground. May need staking when fruiting. 50 cm high. Full sun. The unripe fruits can also be picked and eaten (they taste like cucumber).
Kangaroo Apple (Solanum laciniatum)
Tall plant with deeply cut foliage and small purple flowers followed by small, 2-3 cm egg shaped fruits. Settlers in New Zealand and Australia picked the fruits to make jam. If you want ripe fruits, and you live in the north, you will have to bring the plant inside for the fruits to mature (around december). Also known as "Poroporo". Sow inside several weeks before last frost. 1,5 to 2 m tall. Low germination (50%), barely cover seeds.
Packet of 50 seeds: $2,49
Real size fruits
Tamarillo Tree Tomato (Cyphomandra betacea)
Small subtropical tree bearing clusters of 3-4" egg shaped red fruits looking somewhat like tomatoes. Can be grown outdoors year-round in frost free areas or as a big container plant that can be placed outside in the summer. The sweet-tart, acidic fruits have a meaty pulp and bring to mind the flavors of tomato, orange and lime. Can be used raw but also in any imaginable way (cooked, preserved, jams, juice, etc.). A high yielder after one year of growth. New seeds (2009).
Packet of 8 seeds: $2,99
Cannibal's Tomato (Solanum uporo, Anthropophagorum)
A curiosity with bright red, golfball-size fruits on a eggplant style shrub. Decorative berries, not really edible, though the legend goes that they were used by cannibals to make sauce (?). From Tahiti and Fuji. White flowers, 1 m high.
Tzimbalo (Solanum caripense)
Species similar to Pepino Dulce (melon pear), but with smaller, rounded fruits, about 2-3 cm wide. Green skin striped in purple, turning cream when fruit is fully ripe. White flesh turns yellow when mature. Tart, sour flavor that improves and gets sweeter with age. Flesh is mucilaginous and juicy. Seems earlier than Pepino Dulce and easier to grow in the north. Smaller plants, about 40-50 cm high, crawling. Good ornamental potential with its long trusses of fruits hanging down. Can be grown in pots. About 80 days (?). Also known as Lloron, Pepino lloron et Mamoncillo. Rare plant!
Packet of 20 seeds: $2,99
* Fruits grown in 2008 didn't mature completely, but I'm sure you won't have any problem to get them to ripen if you start the plants early enough and give them full sun. This plant is covered in Lost Crops of the Incas, and its fruits are supposed to turn sweet when ripe, though are not really fleshy (mainly juice and seeds). Interestingly, it is mentioned that Solanum caripense can be crossed with Pepino Dulce (Solanum muricatum) and it is probably its wild ancestor. The plant is still growing wild today in the Andes, between 600 and 1200 meters in altitude.
Nice pictures of Tzimbalo plants on Google Image
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